New proposed regulation to reduce pollutant emissions and improve air quality due to enter into force from 1 July 2025 for vans and 1 July 2027 for lorries and buses, with emissions limits for lorries set lower than Euro VI standards By Will Waters The European Commission has presented a proposal to reduce air pollution from new motor vehicles sold in the European Union (EU), including goods vehicles, “to meet the European Green Deal’s zero-pollution ambition, while keeping vehicles affordable and promoting Europe’s competitiveness”. Its proposed Euro 7 standards aim to bring emission limits for all motor vehicles, i.e., cars, vans, buses and lorries under a single set of rules and are fuel- and technology-neutral, placing the same limits regardless of whether the vehicle uses petrol, diesel, electric drive-trains or alternative fuels. The proposal replaces and simplifies previously separate emission rules for cars and vans (Euro 6) and lorries and buses (Euro VI). According to the Commission’s proposal, the date for the entry into force of the new Regulation is 1 July 2025 for new light-duty vehicles (cars and vans), and 1 July 2027 for new heavy-duty vehicles (lorries and buses), with emissions limits for lorries set lower than Euro VI standards. More pollutants covered In addition to the pollutants currently regulated under under Euro 6/Euro VI rules – nitrogen oxides (NOx), carbon monoxide (CO), particles, hydrocarbons, methane and ammonia for lorries and buses – the proposal extends ammonia (a pollutant with a key role in the formation of urban smog) limits from lorries and buses also to cars and vans. The proposal also regulates formaldehyde, an irritant, carcinogenic gas, and nitrous oxide for lorries and buses. This pollutant is a potent greenhouse gas being regulated for the first time by Euro standards. Finally, Euro 7 will be the first standards worldwide to regulate the smallest of ultrafine particles (down to 10 nanometres), particles from brakes and battery durability. Lowered emission limits for lorries The Commission said various possible emission limits “were studied to find the right balance between emissions saved and the investment needed for new technologies, in a context where the sector is already in a fast pathway towards decarbonisation with accompanying benefits for air quality”. For cars and vans, the strictest of the existing Euro 6 limits were taken as a starting point and applied across all technologies. For example, NOx used to have a limit of 60 mg/km for gasoline cars, and 80 mg/km for diesel. Under the Euro 7 standard rules, that limit will be 60 mg/km, regardless of the technology. For lorries and buses, emission limits are set lower than they were in the previous Euro VI heavy-duty standards. “This reflects the untapped potential of existing technologies and the need for further reductions of air pollutant emissions from these vehicles – especially in the freight transport sector, where combustion-powered vehicles are expected to continue being sold until 2035 and beyond,” the Commission explained. Improved air quality With road transport the largest source of air pollution in cities, the Commission said new Euro 7 standards “will ensure cleaner vehicles on our roads and improved air quality, protecting the health of our citizens and the environment”. It said Euro 7 standards and CO2 emission standards for vehicles “work hand-in-hand to deliver air quality for citizens, as notably the increased uptake of electric vehicles also creates certain air quality benefits. The two sets of rules give the automotive supply chain a clear direction for reducing pollutant emissions, including using digital technologies”. The new Euro 7 emission standards proposal aim to tackle emissions from tailpipes as well as from brakes and tyres and contribute to achieve the new stricter air quality standards proposed by the Commission on 26 October 2022. The Commission said these proposed rules on pollutant emissions “are complementary to the rules on CO2 emissions”, stressing that “the agreed target for 100% CO2 reduction by 2035 for cars and vans has been taken into account in this proposal. The Commission will review in the coming months the CO2 standards for lorries and buses.” The Commission said that “while CO2 emission rules will drive the deployment of zero-emission vehicles, it is important to ensure that all vehicles on our roads are much cleaner. In 2035, all cars and vans sold in the EU will have zero CO2-emissions. However, in 2050, more than 20% of cars and vans and more than half of the heavier vehicles in our streets are expected to continue to emit pollutants from the tailpipe. Battery electric vehicles also still cause pollution from brakes and microplastics from tyres.” It said Euro 7 rules “will reduce all these emissions and keep vehicles affordable to consumers”. It claimed that in 2035, Euro 7 will lower total NOx emissions from cars and vans by 35% compared to Euro 6, and by 56% compared to Euro VI from buses and lorries. At the same time, particles from the tailpipe will be lowered by 13% from cars and vans, and 39% from buses and lorries, while particles from the brakes of a car will be lowered by 27%. Next steps The Commission’s proposal will be submitted to the European Parliament and the Council in view of its adoption by the co-legislators.